In the last few days I seem to have visited an inordinate number of sites that instead of engaging with me in the 2 seconds they have to get my attention they've shown me a Flash plug in that sits there going "Loading" and has a percentage bar crawling across the screen.
These sites had all sent me email inviting me to come and learn about a wonderful seasonal opportunity or great offer. They'd managed to engage me enough to click the link in the email (note - this isn't an invite for Spam. Even if you get through Spamcop and the other blocks I've got in the way I'm not likely to click unless you've managed to target me accurately with something I actually care about).
Then they blow it by assuming I want to watch a progress bar for 2 minutes simply to watch an ad.
Now, the smart ones feature a prominent "skip intro" button I can click and get to the main course. Others actually optimize their Flash experience so that they do display something useful within a couple of seconds that I can interact with and continue my journey (while they finish loading stuff in the background).
The dumb ones (and sadly they seem to be in the majority) suffer the unintended consequence of totally disengaging me (and put me off returning because I assume I'll get the same gatekeeper).
Oh, and I'll add news sites that show me an interstitial advert before I can even get engaged with their homepage. It's just my daily reading workload down!
Now Microsoft have unleashed Silverlight on the web and so we can expect to see a new wave of creative, imaginative splash pages. Even if the creators of those don't do anything totally earth shattering they will make the web a better place if they think about the first 2-5 seconds of engagement.
And maybe just use Silverlight to spice up a page rather than force me to do everything in a RIA where I can't deep-link to content or navigate with the keyboard.
In the meantime... I'll keep clicking [close] - I wonder how many analytics packages report that sort of behavior and flag it as something site owners need to correct....